The UK is taking another step forward as the pioneer in anti-smoking legislation with the announcement of the ‘Swap to Stop’ scheme. This initiative involves giving out one million free vape kits to share among the six million current smokers in the UK. Costing £45 million to the taxpayers, which will be funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, the latest drive to stop smoking by the UK government will also include behavioural support and a range of other measures.
Why Smoking Statistics Have Accelerated the Need for This Scheme
You may be wondering why the UK government is backing a product like an e-cigarette that in many cases also contains an addictive substance like nicotine, which is similar to cigarettes. The curiosity is natural but the evidence is clear.
Of the two, organisations like the NHS and Cancer Research UK claim that neither is good for your health but vaping is a better alternative if you’re a current smoker that’s finding it difficult to quit.
Let’s face it. Cigarettes kill millions globally each year. They are the number one preventable cause of death, with UK Health Minister Neil O’Brien suggesting as much following the Swap to Stop scheme announcement.
If you only vape e-liquids, they do not contain tobacco, which when combustible causes damaging effects to your lungs and body. And there are thousands of dangerous unknown toxins too. While e-cigarettes are not risk-free as we mentioned, the ingredients are much clearer; nicotine, a mixture of Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerine (both are used in chemical food and medical production) and sweeteners.
But the lack of long-term evidence of any potential damage means we cannot say for certain one way or another about the impact of vaping on the human body. What medical experts are saying is it’s less of a risk than smoking – which we know can be fatal. Hence the swap to stop scheme.
Swap to Stop – What Will £45 Million Be Spent on?
As well as one million vape kits being given to the public, the government has a few plans to help in their target of reducing smoking rates to below 5% by 2030. They want to put the wheels in motion so that once the scheme is up and running, local authorities will eventually have their say on which parts of each region can be prioritised for vape kits and verbal support.
In addition, funds will be dedicated to helping pregnant women who still suffer from smoking addiction. Vouchers up to the amount of £400 are planned by the end of 2024 for the 1 in 10 that still smoke while carrying a child. The government wants to put less strain on the health of the UK population and the NHS.
Also, there will be the creation of not just behavioural support to help those wanting to quit smoking, but there is another idea to include mandatory positive messaging and information inside cigarette packets, as another way to help smokers quit.
And What About Underage Vaping?
Another area the government has set their sights on is tackling the worrying issue of underage vaping, which is on the rise. A budget of £3 million is planned to create an ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’. This group will not just enforce rules on the vaping industry but also prevent any illegal purchases to minors of vaping accessories and equipment, whether that’s in vape stores or online sales.
NHS figures highlighted that in 2021 vape use from children aged 11-15 years old was up to 9%, compared to 6% in 2018. Working together with Trade Standards, the illicit vapes enforcement squad will help to reduce this statistic.
However, while it’s good that money is dedicated to tracking illegal sales of vape products, hopefully, this does not turn adults and particularly children back towards smoking, when prevalence numbers for cigarettes are at their lowest (13% in 2021). Fingers crossed that the latest initiative created by the UK government encouraging adult vapers to quit cigarettes through free e-cigarette kits is effective.